Art in the Family

We had both our sons home for dinner tonight! Philosopher and Freeboarder debated the role of art in society with their father. I sipped some pinot grigio and listened. With three males asserting their intellect, it’s better to stay quiet. Easter baskets will appear tomorrow.

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The Easter Reindeer.

Retro Classroom

This photo is of a classroom down the hall from the room where I teach freshman composition. The glass beakers and vials caught my attention, along with the walnut cabinets and brass handles.

My room has a black laboratory table in front of a chalkboard. The table acts as a barricade between the students and me, which in my high school teaching days would have provided a modicum of relief.  Their wooden desks rest on metal bases that are bolted to the floor. One boy, who is quite thin, complained that his seat was too small.

The laboratory table has a sink with running water. After class one day, a girl turned on the water to see if  the faucet worked, and it did. An instructor who used to teach English in this room told me the first thing he would do upon entering the classroom was to turn the water on and wash his hands.

There’s a smell of damp air ducts and old linoleum. The building used to be a parking deck. The inner ramp where the cars would drive is now a walkway.

Art Matters.

Here’s what I wrote to my representatives about the controversy surrounding  the puny 50 million dollar budget devoted to the arts that some conservatives would like to ax.

February 12, 2011

[recipient address was inserted here]

Dear [recipient name was inserted here],

As your constituent, I hope you will vote against cuts to funding for the
National Endowment for the Arts during consideration of the FY 2011
appropriations package.

A society without the arts would be a world where true feelings are
ignored or repressed. The people need the arts in order to be whole.

The same creativity that sent the first humans to the moon serves as the
bedrock for the arts-patchwork quilts, ballads, landscape paintings and
stand-up comedy mean as much to people as solar energy.

What about film, documentaries, storytelling, music, dance? Aren’t these
endeavors part of what makes a society thrive?

My son is an artist. As a high school senior he has spent four to five
hours a day outside of his regular school day to prepare a portfolio for
a professional art program. Taking away grants and fellowships would send
a very negative message to hardworking, talented young students like my
son.

Sincerely,

Christine Swint

Lazy Morning Turns Into Afternoon

The holiday guests have moved on–Ballet Lady (a.k.a. my mother-in-law) has gone back to Florida, and my sister and her daughter have left to visit other relatives.

My morning began at 11:30, and now, an hour later, I’m drinking coffee and watching the dogs destroy Santa. It’s fine by me. Santa gave himself in effigy to the dogs, and they’re only doing what comes naturally to them.

Baltimore Art Dreams

We arrived in Baltimore last night, dropped off Freeboarder’s portfolio, and ventured into the cold to eat at an Indian restaurant, Freeboarder’s first exposure to this cuisine.

We had poori, vegetable biryani, and a few different curries. An aromatic, spicy meal for a dark, windy night in a new city.

And now we’re at MICA, an art school that was founded in 1826. The students are all standing in different lines to have their art portfolios reviewed.

MICA is hosting a National Portfolio Day, and over 50 schools have come to review portfolios. The students have big dreams that someone here today will tell them they have what it takes.

Freeboarder is in line to talk to The Cooper Union, one of the hardest schools to get into–if you’re accepted, you pay no tuition.

So of course the lines for this school are the longest, and the art is phenomenal.

Some of the parents are quite crabby with their kids. They’ve obviously invested a lot of money already in their children’s art, judging from the size and quality of some of the canvases I’ve seen.

I’ve found a quiet corner where I can study for my poetry final, but all I really want to do is eavesdrop and take pictures.

Dream 2

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A man is filling a hole with very white sand. The opening looks like the hollow a stone makes in the moment it hits a body of water.

Every time he shovels sand into the pit, he sinks deeper, as though the circle were swallowing him. He begs the hole to have mercy on him, and to my surprise, it listens to him.

In a sudden burst of energy the man plants a tree with human feet in the spot where he had been filling the hole.

An Office with a View

My office looks out onto rat’s alley. Yes, I’m alluding to The Waste Land, but there really are rats down there. They must like the vat of discarded fast-food grease next to the parking deck.

But there’s a view, with natural light. And the air conditioning works. A huge improvement on last year’s basement office.

Painting on the Porch

Freeboarder, back from the beach, has resumed painting on the porch. Right now he’s listening to the Flaming Lips while rendering an image from a dream he had about “the great god of nature.”

I’ve spent the morning reading and shopping online for a used canoe. We didn’t join a community pool this year, so I’m thinking about taking advantage of the nearby river and lake for some outdoor fun.

Wind and Waves

Today is our last full day at Folly Beach in South Carolina. The wind is strong, and the waves are breaking at a perpendicular angle to the shore.

I saw two guys wind surfing on boards that looked like snowboards. They were riding the waves all the way down miles of beach, at times shooting up twenty feet in the air. The upper body strenghth it must have taken to hold onto that parachute sail… .

My son and his friend walked out into the surf, and the current took them down about five hundred feet. They kept getting out of the water and walking up the beach and swimming down current, as if it were a river.